Dec 16

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John, the apostle who is called, “the apostle of love;” wrote: “All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death” (1 John 5:17). Our challenge now is to find out what is “righteousness;” as we know that “all unrighteousness is sin!” Here we turn to the Psalm, where we read: “My tongue shall speak of thy word: for all thy commandments are righteousness.” (Psa. 119:172). No person who claims to love truth, would never encourage anyone to disobey, even one commandment of God! To do so would be encouraging this person to sin! Even in this short introduction, we know of the importance of “righteousness!”
In looking at the word “righteousness,” the following words were found as part of what the word “righteousness” means: 1) virtue, 2) morality, and 3) justice. How sweet are these three words that fit within the word righteousness! To discourage righteousness, would also be discouraging virtue, morality, and justice. It is not hard to see, just in these three words, how important righteousness is! Read this: “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the LORD than sacrifice” (Pro. 21:3). Why is it “more acceptable to the LORD” to “do justice and judgment?” Is it not that to fail “to do justice and judgment” negates our sacrifice? Our “sacrifice” today is our worship; read the words of Peter: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Pet.2:5). Our “spiritual sacrifice” starts with the giving of ourselves to God, in believing the gospel, repenting of our sins, confessing the Lordship of Christ, and in being baptized into Christ. Then, being “in Christ” (Gal. 3:26-27) we can offer up “spiritual sacrifices” (worship) “acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” As in the Old Testament time, so in the age of Christ, the New Testament age, our failure to do virtue, morality, and justice, which is part of “righteousness,” negates our “spiritual sacrifices!” Therefore, it is not hard to understand the importance of doing righteousness, which consists of God’s commandments!
Now, here is our question: Where would you look for “rightness?” Would “rightness” be found outside of “righteousness?” If we think, that too much attention is being paid to “rightness,” in all honesty, is this not saying that too much attention is being paid to “righteousness?” Keep in mind, all of God’s commandments are righteousness (Psa. 119:172). Another important question: Just which commandment or commandments of God are we putting too much importance? Generally, it is the case, the charge is made that we spend, teach/preach, too much on: 1) mechanical music, 2) baptism, and 3) taking the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week. For us “old” preachers, who have studied the history of the churches of Christ in America, there is nothing new in any of these charges! Yes, different words have been used through the years; as there has been the debate over the subject of the “silence of the scripture” giving authority to act, which is at least as old as Martin Luther; therefore, to preach/teach on this subject is giving too much attention too “rightness!” Then, we are hearing that we, the churches of Christ, are trying to be to “rightness” in regard to those with whom we disagree! Take the subject of what one must do in order to be saved from past sins. The New Testament clearly teaches that a person must: 1) hear/understand “the teaching of Christ” as it relates to the fundamentals of this teaching; 2) believe the gospel, which includes that God exists and that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ; 3) repent of sin, having a change of mind about the manner of living; 4) confessing that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God, which is making a covenant with God; 5) that one must be baptized with a view to having sins forgiven; and 6) determining to live faithful to God through Christ until death. Yes, these may be worded differently, even as the inspired writers did; but the basics are necessary to be saved and to remain saved. These fundamental truths cannot be changed, and to preach/teach them is not being too “rightness!”
So, in concluding this article, to charge us with preaching/teaching too much “rightness” is also to charge the inspired writers of the New Testament with being too “rightness!” Who among us can know the mind and the needs of those who are assembled on the first day of the week?

Frank R. Williams

Permanent link to this article: http://okcsbs.com/loving-god-without-loving-righteousness-2/